Brussels (Brussels Morning) The German ruling coalition has reached an agreement to expand existing economic aid packages for vulnerable groups of citizens and businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, AP reported on Thursday.
The new aid package would aim to help families with children, citizens already living on unemployment benefits, and provide a greater tax rebate for companies that suffered significant losses because of the pandemic.
The cost of the new measures is estimated at some 7.5 billion euro, and will include a one-time 150-euro bonus to families that are already receiving child benefits, plus a 150-euro payment for people living on welfare benefits.
The current temporary tax cut for food served in restaurants and cafes – which reduced sales tax from 19% to 7% – will be extended from the end of June to the end of next year. Companies will be given more options to offset losses by paying less tax on previous year’s profits, and a separate programme to help cultural institutions will also be extended.
All restaurants, cafes and bars in Germany have been closed to customers and are only allowed to offer takeout and deliveries since Germany entered its third lockdown in early November, which is currently set to expire on 14 February.
The most recent extension of the lockdown was prompted by fears of the more infectious British variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which remains a credible threat. German Chancellor Merkel is scheduled to meet with the leaders of regional governments next week in order to see whether another extension is warranted, since the number of new infections remains above government target levels.